Author Archives: Linda TM Pham

NorthWest Indian News – Language Technologies

This video discusses the “silent” crisis of language loss that is being experienced in Aboriginal communities. This crisis is labelled as “silent” because it cannot be heard nor is it a tangible problem that we can see. The video talks about the importance of language preservation in Aboriginal communities and what actions can be done to save Aboriginal languages. Technology is a tool that can aid in the preservation of Aboriginal languages. Also, public awareness is important in helping the revitalization of these languages. The internet is a tool that really help in teaching endangered languages to people, especially children and youth. An interviewee suggests that “language is important to preserve because without language, the culture is just a shell; without language, the culture is just a surface without something inside”. This video is very inspiring as it shows clips of children of Aboriginal children using flashcards and the computer to learn language. It also shows some elderly individuals learning how to use technology so they can help in the revitalization of Aboriginal languages.

Repatriation, Digital Media, and Culture in the Virtual Museum – Kate Hennessy

I have not had a chance to watch the entire 40-minute video yet, however the topics that Kate Hennessy covers in her presentation is very interesting. This webcast is sponsored by Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. It states that many Canadian First Nations and Aboriginal organizations are using digital media to revitalize their languages and assert control over the representation of their cultures. At the same time, museums, academic institutions, and individuals are digitizing their ethnographic collections to make them accessible to originating communities. Hennessy discusses the digitization and return of heritage to Aboriginal communication via the virtual route. She talks about the opportunities, challenges, and critiques associated with digitization, circulation, and remix of Aboriginal cultural heritage. She also discusses some recent projects including a collaborative virtual exhibit with a community in the Western Arctic. Hennessy is a professor at SFU and her research explores the role of digital technology in the documentation and safeguarding of cultural heritage, and in the mediation of culture, history, objects, and subjects in new forms. This video would benefit anyone who is interested in exploring the digitization of Aboriginal cultural heritage. Hennessy demonstrates that while access to cultural heritage in digital collections can facilitate the articulation of intellectual property rights to digital cultural heritage, it also amplifies the difficulty of enforcing those rights.

Internet use and indigenous women

This research paper written for the National Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research in 2005. It addresses the question of whether or not the internet is a useful tool for indigenous women living in remote areas in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to access health resource. This article discusses the digital divide and how it affects indigenous communities. Based on the statistics presented, there is an apparent digital divide between on-reserve Aboriginal population versus the rest of Canada. There is also a divide between the Canadian population and Northern Aboriginal communities in terms of access to the internet. The article explains how the internet is beneficial to the health of aboriginal women and their families. The author also mentions the challenges of having internet technology implemented into aboriginal communities as there are concerns such as language barriers, cultural bias, and fears of assimilation.

The impact of digital technology on indigenous peoples

I found this article to be quite interesting but also in need of careful evaluation. It discusses how technology is beneficial to indigenous cultures in many ways such as preserving and promoting culture. It also states that many indigenous communities see telecommunications and technology as a way to improve rather than hinder self-sufficiency, preservation of culture, real sovereignty, and general economic conditions. Furthermore, the article mentions that in Native societies, a dichotomy exists between those that embrace the internet as a tool to protect, maintain, and promote cultural diversity, and those who believe the internet only serve to endorse capitalist ideas. A number of different authors comment on the benefits of technology in indigenous communities. However, the article does come to question whether or not the benefits of the internet in Native communities outweigh the harm. A list of websites is provided for Indigenous cultures and the internet. It includes 32 websites with a brief description for each one. After reading Chapter 4 in our text book, I come to wonder how many of these websites are actually created by Indigenous people for or about indigenous groups. As Zimmerman et. al, mentions in Chapter 4, there are many “wannabes” who portray themselves as one that know about indigenous cultures. For someone in search of a website that was created by indigenous groups, this list provided would be a good start. It might also expose the surprise that all of the 32 websites were created by non-indigenous authors.

FNBC – Youth Cafe

I saw another post shared by a ETEC 521 colleague that mentions the First Nations Technology Council. The area of the FNBC website that I found interesting is the Youth Cafe where young First Nations individuals share their projects. Many of these young individuals mix technology with traditional art. They also digitizing community stories and recording stories of their elders. On this page, there are useful links to explore. This website provides good examples of successful technology use by Aboriginal youth. In my area of interest, I would like to explore more about how aboriginal youth are balancing technology and cultural traditions. With a number of aboriginal children and youth being exposed to so much technology, I would like to explore the social implications.

Connecting Weblog to Research Interest

I didn’t have a specific research topic in mind when I started by weblog research. However, I kept finding myself being attracted to documents and information pertaining to Aborginal children and technology. The five sites that I have visited come from Canadian as well as Australian sources. The first article I found discusses improving educational experiences for Aboriginal children in Australia. With technology being so widely used by many teachers around the world, I think that educators should invest time into examing how technologies could enhance the learning experience of aboriginal children. At the same time, educators can evaluate these technologies to ensure that they are culturally sensitive, and respectful of aboriginal pedagogy and ways of learning.

I find the second piece of information to be the most interesting. I have heard about the One Laptop Per Child policy before and learned that the Belinda Stronach Foundation was implementing it with Aboriginal children across Canada. However, I didn’t know that there is software included into theses computers that aboriginal children and youth can directly relate to. I want to see the outcome of the laptop distribution. I would like to find out what worked well for the aboriginal children, and what could be improved for the future.

Closely linked to the distribution of laptops is the Belinda Stronach Foundation. I looked further into this organization and found that they work to deal with global challenges and innovative solutions. They provide a presentation on their website that discusses the creation of a better future for aboriginal children using technolgy. Another organization called KTA works closely with Aboriginal peoples. On their site I found a document about aboriginal culture in the digital age. Both the Belinda Stronach Foundation and the KTA made me think further about the use of technology and how it benefits aboriginal children. The last document I found talks about a software for educating aboriginal students about place. TAMI is a program that elders can use with children. 

My weblog research seems to be linked by the idea that technology is being used by and for aboriginal children. I would like further research how technology worked (or did not work) for aboriginal children. I am interested in possibly narrowing down my topic a little more.

Software for educating Aboriginal Students about Place

Written by an author from The University of Melbourne, this paper discusses how a software can contribute to learning about being in-place by Australian Aboriginal Children. The author identifies a software called TAMI which stands for texts, audio, movies, and images. TAMI was design with and for Aboriginal Australian teachers, parents and grandparents so that they have the opportunity to work with the children of their communities inducting them into the collective life the various places to which they belong and from which they derive their identities. The TAMI software sounds very unique and I would be interested in researching more about its applications and success in Australia. I also wonder if a similar software exists or has been used in North America.


KTA is a Canadian consulting and public interest research organization that provides advisory, facilitation and negotiations services for their clients and advances new policy thinking and ideas. Their clients include a number of organizations associated with Aboriginal peoples namely Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Foundation, Métis Nation of Ontario, Office of Indian Residential School, and Canadian Heritage.

One of its current projects is with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada on developing a research paper on coordination and policy alignment of early learning and child care. A document that I found pertains to Aboriginal culture in the digial age. The objective of this paper is to bring a holisti perspective to the implications of ICT for Aboriginal ways of living, thinking, and knowing. I am particularly interested in paper because there is a section that discusses technology and Aboriginal children. Although I have not stated my research topic at this point, I am quite interested in doing the area of Aboriginal school children and youth, and the effects of technology. With further research, I am hoping to be able to narrow down my topic.

The Belinda Stronach Foundation

As mentioned in my previous post, I would do more research on The Belinda Stronach Foundation (BSF). Interestingly enough, I came across more information about the laptop distribution to aboriginal children across Canada. On its website, The BSF states that it “builds partnerships with individuals, non-governemental organizations, businesses large and small, as well as other foundations who work in Canada and around the world to confront global challenges and innovative solutions”. In February 2010, the BSF release a presentation called “One Laptop per Child (OLPC): Creating a Better Future for Aboriginal Children in Canada using Technology”. The presentation gives an overview of what OLPC is, where it is already in use, and why it should be used in Canada for aboriginal children and youth. This presentation does not go into detail about the outcome for Canadian aboriginal users as the evaluation of the program does not occur until October, 2011. I would be very interested to follow up on this.

Aboriginal Children Get Laptops

This article from CBC News (September 29th, 2010) talks about Belinda Stronach Foundation giving 5,000 laptops to aboriginal children across Canada. These computers were given to children between ages 6 and 12. Each computer was supposed to be equipped with 8 software programs tha focus on variou issues facing aboriginal youth. What is interesting to me is that the computers come with a virtual library that includes titles by aboriginal authors.

Since this article is from 2010, I am very curious about the outcome of the laptop distribution. I will try to search for more information about the Belinda Stronach Foundation and also see if there are any more recent distribution of technologies to aboriginal children and youth.